As a result of what officials there called “a large number of influenza (flu) cases in its outpatient clinics, emergency department and in the hospital,” Northern Hospital of Surry County is putting temporary restrictions on visitors younger than 18.
“We understand how important our young visitors are to our patients, but during this flu season, we feel we must put precautionary measures in place,” said Bill James, president and CEO of Northern Hospital.
“This decision is consistent with other hospitals in the region and will most likely remain for several months until the flu rate has significantly decreased.”
“We continue to ask visitors not to come to the hospital if they have any flu symptoms,” explained Kitty Horton, RN, director of Infection Prevention at Northern. “Children are often contagious before they show signs of an illness. Allowing this age group to visit in hospital patient areas at this time presents potentially critical risks to patients.”
In addition to patient rooms, those younger than 18 are also restricted from hospital lobbies, waiting areas, and classrooms. Exceptions would be made in serious emergencies or in end of life situations. The policy does not apply to patients under 18 who have a scheduled procedure, need emergency care or hospitalization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is increasing nationwide. Because of this, the following infection control measures “are of utmost importance” the hospital said.
Those measures include:
-Advice that individuals not visit patients in the hospital or its skilled nursing unit;
-No one utilizing the emergency department for suspected flu cases, instead patients should visit their primary care physician or an urgent care center;
-Individuals should wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
-People should sneeze into the bend of their arm or a tissue, not into hands;
-Anyone who is sick should stay home as much as possible except to get medical care;
-Anyone seeking treatment at the hospital should wear a mask;
-Anyone who has not yet received a flu vaccine should obtain one “as soon as possible” since it takes up to two weeks after getting vaccinated for the immunity to kick in.